There are many heroes roaming the halls of mixed martial arts gods. In a sport so young, most are living legends, and some are even still active. Many an MMA fan will be quick to give you the short list of amazing components to the history of this sport, but often overlooked are the unsung heroes of MMA.
Many may not consider at first glance that far more than just competitors have come together to create a foundation for the sport to thrive for many years to come. While the action that takes place inside the cage is the focus of the sport, it takes far more than two athletes to create MMA magic.
Many may disagree, but an icon like Dana White and the Fertitta brothers represent an example of the unsung hero. A man like Big John McCarthy is another. To take it a step further, how about a guy like Jacob “Stitch” Duran?
The job of the cutman is of paramount importance to the flow of a fight and the health of the warriors who risk their safety to compete. Without a man like “Stitch” to entrust their cuts to, many a warrior may suffer far more than they are required to as competitors.
The job of a cutman not only impacts the health of a warrior, but can at times also impact the outcome of a given match depending on their ability to control or manage any damage that a fighter sustains during combat.
It is the expertise and insight of a man like “Stitch” that has revolutionized how fighters are cared for in a profession that is far older than MMA. The great cutmen of history are revered as true components of combat arts. Chuck Bodak comes to mind, but there are many more.
“Stitch” Duran without a doubt will go down as one of the true greats of his profession. Especially within the MMA community. Quite simply, the man is legendary and has been a staple within the sport.
Yet with all his notoriety as a top cutman in the business, many fight fans simply do not realize how great his impact has been on both expectations of all cutmen, and particularly with how things are done in MMA.
Who better to explain than one of “Stitch’s” colleagues, a man they call “Big Rob." Rob Monroe has been in the business of all forms of combat arts since his teenage years. Making the right connections and nurturing the relationships he made along the way, “Big Rob” has taken his rightful place as one of the standards of his profession.
Like “Stitch,” Monroe is highly respected as a knowledgeable class act that many fighters have trusted to wrap their hands before combat and tend to their needs during. It was a great honor for the staff at Hurtsbad MMA to sit down and talk up the game with the legendary yet extremely humble “Big Rob” Monroe.
Monroe spoke at length about his thoughts on “Stitch’s” impact on what it is they do. In a raw environment of combat arts, this man has transformed that which was practiced without much concern for hygiene into something that is practiced with the utmost care.
He told Todd Jackson of Hurtsbad MMA, “Stitch is the best in the business hands down. He has set the standard for what we do. He has changed the sport. You see a lot of the old time boxing cutmen, and they are still carrying their swabs in their mouth or behind their ears. It's just nasty.”
Monroe explained the importance of exactly why that care must be taken and drew an interesting contrast.
“We work in such a dirty environment. In the cage, there is sweat, there's blood, there's hair, everything. It's just dirty. If you had a big gash on your head and you walked into the doctors and he has no gloves on, his swab is in his mouth, you would say 'what the hell?’ So why would that be OK inside the ring, whether it's a boxing ring or an MMA cage?”
Monroe talked about how Duran has influenced the profession for the future. “‘Stitch' Duran has changed that. We work so much cleaner. Our swabs never touch our skin; it's just a completely different deal now, and he changed the game and what we do."
In closing, “Big Rob” made it clear: Not all cutmen have come aboard, but the trend is changing without a doubt.
“He set the standard. Anybody today that is not working like that is out in left field. I can't even believe that it happens anymore; you see it because guys watch the old timers and they think that's how it's done.”
This is quite unique insight as to how a legendary component to MMA has made his mark, yet he may never be known for much more than his nickname among the casual MMA fan. All most fans see when they think of “Stitch” Duran is a mane of curly salt and pepper hair and a cool vest with his name across the shoulders.
Let it be known that among the fight culture the man is nothing short of legendary status and should be hailed as such. His contributions will forever influence how his profession is practiced among his peers. In the end, his influence will make things safer for the athlete, and that is an accomplishment that should be celebrated.
All these cutmen play a silent role in this sport, but while their efforts may go virtually unnoticed by the untrained eye, that can never take away from the importance of the role they play and how professionally they play that role.
This article originally featured at Hurtsbad MMA. Follow us on Twitter @HurtsBad